Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Randy Rhoads Remembered (32 Years Ago Today)

Today marks the 32nd anniversary of the death of one of hard rock’s true guitar heroes, Randy Rhoads.

Randy, who found massive success with Ozzy Osbourne’s solo band back in 1980, after starting his career in an early version of Quiet Riot, died on March 19, 1982.  He was a victim of a plane crash accident in Leesburg, Florida while on tour with Ozzy. His death propelled him into the same vanguard as other legendary guitarists who also had their careers cut short by tragedy.

It wasn’t just the fact that Randy Rhoads dying young cemented his legendary status. He was well on his way to the pantheon of musical genius while still alive.

Randy’s legend runs so deep within the music community, it’s very easy to forget he only recorded two albums with Ozzy (Blizzard of Ozz and Diary of a Madman – both released in 1981). But the influence spread far and wide to burgeoning and established guitarists all across the world.

With a blinding speed and a pyrotechnic sonic fervor, the power of Randy’s work is stunning. He achieved so much success and spread an influence so wide at such a young age, (he was only 25 years old when he died) and with such a small amount of recorded material, is an amazing feat in itself. With his bone-crunching riffs, on top of walls of sound that would shake and rattle one’s teeth and soul, Randy played his guitar like no one before or since. In essence, he led a musical revolution in which he never had a chance to witness.

Randy’s legacy lives on to this day and will continue to do so as he lives on in so many others.

Randy Rhoads performing live during his stint in Quiet Riot (1978-79).  Watch this video and you’ll hear many portions of the solo which would go on to become classic Ozzy tunes.

QUIET RIOT (ft. Randy Rhoads) September 22, 1979 

New Metallica “Lords of Summer” [Garage Demo] Posted Today

The new Metallica demo “Lords of Summer” was posted today coming just three days after debuting the song live in Bogota, Columbia.

I listened to the live bootleg version from the Bogota gig (posted on YouTube: Metallica - The Lords of Summer [LIVE] Bogotá, Colombia 03/16/14) and liked it immediately.  Even though the sound was shit, it was still listenable and I could tell it had that old-school 'Tallica feel to it.

Low and behold, the kind Metalli-guys shared a demo/studio version of “Lords of Summer” today and it’s pretty amazing.

Have a listen.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Playlist (Mar 9th-15th 2014)

  • Corsair – Self-Titled
  • KXM – Self-Titled
  • Crobot – The Legend Of The Spaceborne Killer
  • Destrage – Are You Kidding Me? No!
  • Bigelf – Into The Maelstrom
  • Rush – Pinkpop Festival (Netherlands  06-04-1979)
  • Savage Messiah – The Fateful Dark
  • Slough Feg – Digital Resistance
  • Conquering Dystopia – Self-Titled
  •  Iron Savior – Rise of the Hero

KISS Destroyer – 38 years ago today (released March 15, 1976)

Hmmmmm, where do I begin?

1. “Detroit Rock City”
2. “King of the Night Time World”
3. “God of Thunder”
4. “Great Expectations”
5. “Flaming Youth”
6. “Sweet Pain”
7. “Shout It Out Loud”
8. “Beth”
9. “Do You Love Me?”
10. “Rock and Roll Party” <hidden track>

I was knocked on my ass by KISS when ALIVE was released, but this album took it another 900 miles. “Detroit Rock City”, “Flaming Youth”, “Sweet Pain”, “Shout It Out Loud” and “God of Thunder” (ok, that’s half the album right there) where, without a doubt, the tracks I played all the time. I wore the grooves down on the vinyl and had to wait until the next year to get another one. Even though “Beth” was their biggest hit, I wasn’t big on it since I was a little guy wasn’t a fan of the mellow tunes. I don’t know too many KISS fans who don’t cite this album as one of their favorites to this day. Among the 24 studio albums released, Dressed To Kill, Rock and Roll Over, Destroyer, Love Gun, Ace Frehley (solo), and Creatures of the Night are may favorites. But Destroyer stands out among them all because the opening track, “Detorit Rock City” grabs you and thrusts you into a scenario about a guy killed on his way to a Rock concert. That shocked the hell out of me, but I loved it. Hooked from that day on.

“Movin’ fast, doin’ 95
Hit top speed but I’m still movin’ much too slow
I feel so good, I’m so alive
I hear my song playin’ on the radio……” KISS “Detroit Rock City” (1976)

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Happy 68th David Gilmour

David Gilmour is an artist I wish we saw more of over the years. Aside from his years in Pink Floyd, he carved out his own direction via solo albums, which had something to offer outside the ‘walls of Floyd’.  But the music he created in Pink Floyd is why he’s in the Rock and Roll history books. Last studio album David released was in 2006 “On An Island” and the title track alone stops me in my tracks when I hear it.  It has that full on Floydian feel to it, but the tones which emanate from that song are truly spectacular.

My favorite Gilmour/Floyd tracks:

“Division Bell”
“Not Now John”
“Wish You Were Here”
“There’s No Way Out of Here”
“Young Lust”
“All Lovers Are Deranged”
“Comfortably Numb”
“On An Island”
“Learning To Fly”

Happy birthday, David!! Salute!  <insert cold shot of Crown here>

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Yngwie J. Malmsteen’s Rising Force released 30 years ago today

First time I heard Swede-shredder Yngwie Malmsteen was in 1983 when he was featured on three albums/two bands: L.A.’s Steeler (w/Ron Keel on vocals) and Alcatrazz (with one of my favorite all-time vocalists Graham Bonnett) ‘No Parole From Rock and Roll’ and ‘Live Sentence’. I always had a thing for ‘live’ albums and ‘Live Sentence’ literally blew my mind.

When Yngwie decided to release his debut solo album in 1985 “Yngwie J. Malmsteen’s Rising Force ” I knew it would be great, but it blew the doors off all three albums from 1983. Side bar: I always got a kick out of the ‘J’ he had added to his name. I get the classical connection, seriously, I get it…but I joked about that the most back in the day. Kinda went like this, “You have to listen to the new Ingvay Jaaaaaaaaay Malmsteen album!’

My best friend and I listened to this album ALL THE DAMN TIME. We could play it frontward, backward, upside down. We hit every freakin’ note….air guitar of course. This and Armored Saint’s “Marck of the Saint” were the two we listened to, one after the other.
Having not listened to this album for a couple years, until today, I proved I can STILL play every air guitar note for note. <evil grin>

Yngwie set the neo-shredder bar and, in my humble opinion, threw Eddie Van Halen flying into the back seat. I couldn’t believe how he played circles around every guitar player I idolized at the time (with the exception of Randy Rhoads). This album holds up very well after 30 years and doesn’t sound dated to these old ears.

If you’ve never listened to this one the you lived under a very large rock.  Then again, it’s never too late to give ol’ Mr. Jaaaaaaay Malmsteen a go.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

For 30 Years “This Is Spinal Tap” Has Gone To ’11’

Rob Reiner’s classic, “This is Spinal Tap” is the definition of mockumentary since being released March 2nd 1984.

The story of a British heavy metal band’s comeback tour across the U.S. is the BEST rock satire for music groups, metal heads and film lovers.

You may think a film from the early 80s would have become stale over the years, but Spinal Tap is as fresh as ever. Band members Nigel Tufnel (Christopher Guest), David St. Hubbins (Michael McKean) and Derek Smalls (Harry Shearer) remain hilarious and clueless caricatures. The film and its musical satire still hold up after 30 years and remains the uber inside joke for many musicians, as this movie serves as a reminder of the many ‘spinal tap moments’ in their own careers.

I will cherish this movie forever.

“If we need that extra push over the cliff…….”

“These go to eleven”

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Aerosmith “Get Your Wings” celebrates 40 today (aka: side two, track two / aka: ignorance is bliss / aka: my holy grail)

Aerosmith shares a 40 year anniversary with Rush today (see Rush self titled debut turns 40) since March 1st marks the release of 1974’s “Get Your Wings”. An album I didn’t even know about until 1979 (it was the 70’s, I was young and only knew “Dream On” at that point because it was an FM radio staple).

I knew Aerosmith from what I heard on radio (“Dream On”, “Sweet Emotion”, “Last Child”, “Walk This Way” and “Draw The Line”) and nothing else because KISS was still my universe and no other band existed to me. I didn’t get into this band until 1979 when I moved from New Jersey to New Mexico. The local Rock radio station (94 Rock) in Albuquerque would play “Train Kept A Rollin” almost every hour on the hour. And I could never understand why a live version of the song ALWAYS followed the studio version. I also couldn’t believe they mentioned Albuquerque in the song (“Well, we made a stop in Albuquerque“). And I had no clue the song was released five years prior. Yes, I was a clueless dude for a bit. Regardless, I was 100% into the live version and had to have it. I would call the radio station to request only the “live version”. I was either met with the dial tone soon after or, “Yeah..haha…yeah…we can try and do that for ya kid”. I was never informed the studio and live version of “Train” was one track (side two track two, I still remember). Hang on, it gets better.

After I placed my request, I grabbed a blank cassette (an old no-name cassette that had been recorded over countless times and so thin from wear one could probably see through it, scotch tape over the missing tabs, labels removed and replaced with masking tape), popped it into my Radio Shack tape recorder, placed it next to my portable radio’s speaker and waited for the song to play. And as Murphy’s Law would have it, when you sit and wait for a song to play, it’s not gonna happen until you give up after two hours, get up and walk away for 10 seconds only to come back and hear it playing. I went through cassette tapes like a baby goes through diapers by always requesting songs and just hitting record until the tape runs out, then flipping it over until I had the songs I wanted. I finally captured “Train Kept A Rollin” and edited it myself keeping only the live version and adding it to an “already in progress” mixed tape (which had “Iron Man”, “The Zoo”, “Lights Out”, “Boys Are Back In Town” and “Cat Scratch Fever” on Side A).

After a few weeks I figured it was time to own “Get Your Wings” because if the other songs on the album were just as good as “Train” then I’d be in heaven. I went to the local record store and found “Get Your Wings” on vinyl, 8-Track and cassette, but none of them included the live version. Couldn’t find it anywhere! Again, had someone told me (hello 94 Rock DJ) it was on the album then I wouldn’t have been so ignorant. Make that ‘Ignorant Part I’. And none of my new friends were into Rock music at this point.

Enter ‘Ignorant Part II’. I walk up to the record store counter with the album in hand and ask the guy where I can find the live version of “Train Kept A Rollin”. He asks me, “Are you looking for the Tiny Bradshaw, The Yardbirds or the Aerosmith version?” Wait…what?? I thought it was an Aerosmith song. So I hesitated a little bit because I had no idea there were other versions and told him, “Aerosmith”. He told me it was on “Get Your Wings”. I grabbed a copy, looked at the back cover again and didn’t see it listed.

And ‘Ignorant Part III’ I make my way back to the counter with record in hand and tell him (again) that I want the live version of “Train”. He points to the record. I tell him it only has the studio version. <pause> Yeah, he laughed and made sure to grab a few of the other guys who worked there to get in on it at my expense. When I sheepishly asked what was so funny, they grabbed a copy from behind the counter and put it on the turntable…side two, track two. I stood there listening to the studio version and made my case again telling them I didn’t want that version. More laughing ensued. Just as the song ended, I could hear the live audience swell and the live version of “Train” blaring out of the store’s sound system. What the…?? I asked the guys, “It’s recorded like that on the record?” All of them still laughing. <insert Charlie Brown sound of pain when Lucy pulls the football away as he runs in to kick it>

Needless to say, I tried to ignore the embarrassment, plunked down the $12 and bought the album. Once they calmed down, they told me it was cool that I even knew who Aerosmith still was. I had no idea what they meant at that time because I didn’t keep up on the music magazines (Hit Parader, Circus, Creem – didn’t enter my life until 1980 – that’s another story). But I was so damn happy to have found this (my holy grail) and a better sounding copy of “Train” over my cassette version. I went on to appreciate the rest of the album as well (“Same Old Song and Dance”, “Seasons of Wither”, Lord of the Thighs” and “Pandora’s Box”). Every time I think of this album it will always remind me of “Train Kept A Rollin” and my small journey to find the live version.

And if you’ve never heard the Tiny Bradshaw (recorded in 1951) or Yardbird version (1968), go look for them on YouTube. You’ll be surprised.

I give you my holy grail (side two track two):

Rush self-titled debut turns 40 today

Rush released their debut album 40 years ago today. It’s the only album to feature drummer John Rutsey (who was replaced by Neil Peart before ‘Fly by Night’ was released a year later).

While songs such as “In the Mood” and “Finding My Way” have appeared in Rush live set lists on occasion, most of the eight songs fall to the wayside (minus the die-hard fans) and with the exception of “Working Man,” THE song that served as the introduction to Rush.

Thank you Donna Halper (the WMMS Cleveland disc jockey/music director as mentioned in the Rush movie “Beyond the Lighted Stage”) who received a copy of “Working Man” and took notice of the length of the song (true story). She mentioned she was usually looking for long “bathroom songs” that her DJs could throw on when nature called. At seven minutes plus, “Working Man” was ideal and its blue collar theme fit the town like a glove. Then it all began…..

Here we are, forty years later and the Rush machine continues to move on and their legions of fans grow in numbers. They were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame last year and still remain relavent. They don’t rely on touring as a “greatest hits” band, but release albums that are extremely imaginitive and contain substance (see “Snakes & Arrows” and “Clockwork Angels”).

Late last year I had read this album would be reissued this year to celebrate the 40 year milestone and the members of Rush are “very involved” in the process of putting the package together.

**UPDATE** To mark the band’s 40-year recording career, on April 15, 2013, Universal Music Enterprises (UMe) will celebrate with the vinyl reissue of the original Moon Records (pre-Mercury) release of Rush, as part of Universal’s reDISCovered vinyl series.

“It seems to me I could live my life / A lot better than I think I am / I guess that’s why they call me / The working man”  Rush “Working Man” (self-titled debut album 1974).